Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lone Survivor: Movie Review

Wingnut and I saw Lone Survivor on opening night.  The theater was packed and on edge throughout.  This was probably the best war movie I have ever seen and is based on the true story of ill fated Operation RedWing, SEAL Team 10, and more personally Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his team members' Matthew Axelson, Michael Murphy, and Daniel Healy.

Operation Redwing took place in June 2005 in the mountains of Afganistan.  The mission: to capture or kill a murderous al Qaeda leader hidden amongst the resurgent and heavily armed Taliban.  Inserted into the Afghani mountain wilderness the four would come under heavy fire from the Taliban and ultimately lead to the largest loss of Navy SEAL life in history--including three of the four team members and a helicopter full of potential rescuers.

Based upon Luttrell's memoir of the same name, Hollywood did take a bit of license in dramatizing the events, but for the most part Wingnut felt the film held true to Luttrell's narrative.  Hard hitting, violent, and profanity laced, it was difficult at times to watch but still riveting and fascinating.  Navy SEALs are no wimps.  I'm sure Hollywood did not dramatize the SEALs ability to continue pressing on despite multiple shot wounds and numerous other injuries that would stop the average human being in his tracks.  The SEALs never lost hope or courage and that is definitely made apparent in the film.

One particular scene stands out from the film for me.  The four man team debates what should be done about the goat herders that have accidentally stumbled upon them in mid-operation.  Should the civilians be shot, tied to trees, or released?  That decision changes the course of the mission and the course of these men's lives forever.

CNN commentator Jake Tapper took from the film an overwhelming feeling of senselessness.  That's too bad, that is not the intent of the movie in the least.  Americans need to know that not every mission is victorious.  Every mission is fraught with imminent peril and American lives are lost nearly everyday in Afghanistan, even to this day.  That loss of life should never be perceived as senseless.  Our military men and women have a mission and a purpose and their lives and deaths have meaning to their families, to their country, to their brothers in arms, and to their mission; whether they are victorious or fail.  Lone Survivor is not about the senseless loss of life of so many brave men. It is about the dauntless courage, fortitude, and continued hope in the face of certain death.

At the conclusion of the film, tribute is paid to all the men who lost their lives supporting and participating in Operation Red Wing.  As the credits rolled, the breathless audience clapped; not just because the movie is that good (it is), but because the audience got it.  It would be nice if our country's leadership did the same.

I'm reading the book now.  I'm hoping the movie did the story right. I have a distinct feeling the film makers got this one right, as the movie is doing much better than expected and continues to draw moviegoers because of wide spread word of mouth.

Due to pervasive language, graphic violence, and scenes of extreme peril, I would recommend this film for adults only.

SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, from Patchogue, N.Y., and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, of Cupertino, Calif., taken in Afghanistan.

This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.
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